Ephesians 5:3-4 (ESV), “But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving.”

I grew up in Dallas, Texas. One thing about growing up there is that we are not stereotypical Texans—though we claim to be. We don’t have horses, we don’t have accents, and we don’t wear cowboy boots. Then, I moved to Lubbock in West Texas and quickly learned I was not in Dallas anymore. 

I taught in a school where we could wear blue jeans on Fridays. This was a great perk I took advantage of my first week. I was excited to wear jeans and my favorite pair of Converse high tops—like everyone my age did from Dallas. However, all of my male colleagues were aghast when I walked through the door. They kept looking at me, down at my shoes, and back at me. Finally, they asked, “Where are your boots”? And by boots, they meant cowboy boots. 

I felt out of place, like I didn’t belong. 

I told the truth. I said I didn’t have any. Without skipping a beat, the history teacher said, “Well, there’s a Cavender’s down the road.” 

And that was that. 

Not only did I buy a pair of boots, but I wore them on Fridays, just like everybody else. However, even my boots could not convince people I was from West Texas because my non-accent always betrayed me. I looked West Texan until I opened my mouth. 

For example, when I said the word oil, I would say it like you said in your head: oi-ill. But in West Texas, it is a one-syllable word pronounced ole. Everyone, I mean, everyone said ole. No matter who I was talking to, whenever the word oil came up, it was apparent that I was not from West Texas. Therefore, no matter what I wore or how I tried to hide it, my words always revealed where I was from.

In the same way, our speech reveals who we serve and what path we are on. We know from Ephesians 2 that before Christ, we all “once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air” (v.2, ESV). This means that we were all following Satan in the path of darkness, continually sinning and blaspheming God. But God, in his mercy, transferred us into His Kingdom and made us co-heirs with Christ. Our identity has fundamentally changed. As Jesus said, we have been “born again.”

This is why Paul stresses in this chapter that our speech matters. Not only are we accountable for the words we say, but our words also reveal who we are. They tell people from which Kingdom we belong. They tell people who our Master is.

Our speech is fundamentally different from the world. As a Christian, it is expected to feel like you are out of place like you don’t belong. No matter the clothes you wear or how hard you try to blend in, your accent will betray you. You will sound different than those of the world. At least you should. 

As Christians, we are not to partake in “coarse joking, obscenities, or foolish talk” (Ephesians 5:4, ESV). Not only because they are sinful but because they “are improper for God’s holy people” (Ephesians 5:3). In verse eleven, Paul goes even further to say, “to have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness” (ESV). Don’t flirt with immorality or even participate a little in dirty jokes and slander. Completely cut it out from your vocabulary altogether. 

Based on our continual thanksgiving and praise to God, people should know we are not from this world. They should hear your speech and see that you are born-again from Heaven.

Therefore, whether you wear Converse or Cowboy boots, live, and talk like where you are from.

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